Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The minutiae of gaming - training costs

In my latest post I talked about keeping track of the small stuff. Thinking on how I could have used taxes, fees and encumbrance made me remember my 3rd ed. D&D campaign.

That campaign was strongly influenced by the "Third editions rules, first edition feel" that was the motto of Necromancer Games. Some of that broke down when treasure entered the equation. I did use encumbrance rules and while they didn't stop any of my players, it at least slowed them down.

One oddity which was rampant when the campaign finally ended, was that gold no longer was worth it's weight in gold! Yeah, I know how absurd that sounds.

My players had realized that money was worthless unless you could use it to buy magic items, so unless it was gold in the thousands it was not worth picking up. You could probably make a case against selling and buying magic items from that, but I thought about something else in relation to my last blog post.

If encumbrance means so little when you have Handy Haversack and Bags of Holding, would exchange fees and taxes do much either? Basically, why bother?

To bring this together with my experiences of another game with checks and balances regarding money, I will relate this to my Megadungeon campaign in Tunnels & Trolls. In that campaign you didn't get xp for gold. That used to be in an older edition, but it was taken out due to the Monte Haul effect (so Ken St Andre told me). You did have to pay for magical training, though.

After having played a bit, there were not much incentive any longer to go adventuring in order to buy stuff. When you have the best armour there is, and the best weapon you can use you have to look further.This campaign did not break down due to two things. I was blessed with very good players who took upon themselves to create bigger and greater goals, like starting a tavern and a university. Almost like the old D&D rules for starting to build a stronghold. The second thing was that higher level spells still cost and arm and a leg to pay for training.

The lesson of this is that even if you don't use a rule like xp for gold, it's still a good idea to use training costs.

(edit: fixed a broken link)


  1. The link to your megadungeon campaign brings me to the blogger log in screen, and then doesn't accept my log in.

  2. I agree with your point here about training costs. Treasure should be about something. If it is not an item worth having in itself, it should be a means to an end. Giving xp for treasure defeats the idea of seeking treasure for a larger purpose. Especially if you forbid the players going to the "Magick Shoppe" to buy items, but say all such must be adventured for. Then training costs, hiring followers and building strongholds become the major ways to dispose of loot.

  3. Sorry. That link was broken. It should work now.

  4. Hmm. I am not sure I follow you, Dave. Giving xp defeats the idea of seeking treasure for a larger purpose?

    Wouldn't you say that giving xp for treasure works just fine? It encouraging the hunt for treasure over killing things. But in order to have something to use the gold on (and not have the "Magick Shoppe" phenomenon), it makes sense to also charge for training?

  5. I like giving smaller amounts of treasure, but letting it earn xp coming and going. One set of xp when they get it, then they can either spend it on stuff, or use some sort of carousing rule to spend it on more xp.

    This is very difficult stuff to get right. Gygax's DMG bore all the marks of having been burned by overly easy treasure giveaways, but when applied literally, the rules, with their training costs, higher equipment costs and injunctions to tax and steal at every turn, make for a slow and painful grind up the levels.

  6. I have long liked the idea of carousing rules. Maybe that's the way to make the gold spendable on something.

    Thanks for reminding me of carousing rules again!


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